Saturday, May 2, 2015


This is that OHMSS story I mentioned on a blog post a couple of days ago. By the way, I have a reproduction of the one-sheet pictured above framed and hanging on the wall of the ol' man cave. I love it!

Christmas night, 1969. The new James Bond film, ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE opened at Austin's Paramount Theatre. I couldn't wait to see it. I begged my older brother to take me to see it that night after we'd had a final round of Christmas gifts and food at my grandmother's house. If I recall correctly, I had a booklet full of Interstate Theater gift certificates that were burning a hole in my pocket. He agreed and we set out for downtown Austin.

The film has a running time of 140 minutes. Let's say that the showing began at 10:00 p.m. That means that by the time we got near the end of the film, it was well past midnight In the film, Bond (George Lazenby)  defeated Blofeld (Telly Savalas)  in a spectacular battle sequence in the third act. The action then moved to the wedding ceremony of Bond and Tracy (the drop-dead gorgeous Diana Rigg). Wedding bells were ringing as the happy couple left the church and headed for their going-away vehicle. At that point, my brother gave me an elbow to the ribs and whispered, "come on, let's go." He figured that the movie was essentially over. The bad guy was dead and it looked like Bond was going to have a "they-lived-happily-ever-after" ending.

I wasn't entirely sure the movie was over. After all, we still hadn't seen the final credits which usually announced that "James Bond would return in fill-in-the-blank." And this was a James Bond film, albeit an extremely unorthodox one with not only a different actor in the starring role (one who acquitted himself very well, by the way), but radically different in tone, style and pacing. This was a Bond film quite unlike any of the previous Sean Connery films. I thought that anything could still happen.

But then again, it was very late, we were both very tired and my brother was driving. If he said we're leaving, we were leaving. So leave we did while the film was still playing.

Cut to January, 1970. Classes at O.Henry Junior High had resumed after the Christmas break. I was talking to a buddy of mine (and I'm sorry but I don't recall exactly who it was) about what we'd done over the holidays, what cool gifts we'd received, what neat movies we'd seen.

We had both seen OHMSS and loved it. We were comparing notes when my buddy said, "can you believe they killed his wife at the end of the movie?"

Wait, what?

"You're kidding," I said. "My brother and I left when Bond and Tracy got married. The movie was over."

"No it wasn't," he countered. "At the very end Blofeld shot her and Bond was crying over her dead body."

I was stunned. Shocked. I couldn't believe that I missed perhaps the most crucial plot element of one of the best Bond films ever made because my brother thought the movie was over and made us leave. I was sorely tempted to go see the movie again by myself just to see the entire thing but I never did. In fact, it wasn't until years later, when I saw the film on television, that I finally saw those oh-so-important final minutes of film.

Lesson learned: a movie's never over until the final credits are finished and the house lights come up.

Second lesson learned: quit going to the movies with my brother.

I guess I was a bit slow to learn the second lesson because a similar incident occurred when we went to see ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST. I'll tell you about that in the near future.


  1. For years, I had to come to the defense of OHMSS, which for a long time was considered the bastard child of the James Bond series. None of my friends liked it; all of them hated Lazenby; and it was the least profitable Bond film of all time (probably still is). Glad to see film historians are finally reconsidering OHMSS’s place in the JB pantheon. The script was smart, direction top-notch and Diana Rigg to this day is my absolute favorite Bond girl. OHMSS, in my estimation, is second only to GOLDFINGER, with CASINO ROYALE (Daniel Craig) coming in third.

    And speaking of leaving films early: Back in 1959, I saw BEN-HUR at a drive in with my family. After the chariot race ended, my father decided the movie was over and we drove home. Days later we heard from friends there was a whole half hour left and we had missed the crucifixion scene and the miraculous healing of Judah’s mother and sister. It took me years to finally see that sequence, when BEN-HUR came to television.

  2. Got to agree completely with your assessment of the Bond films Jim. I rank them the exact same way. And it's not hard to see how someone would think BEN-HUR was over after the chariot race. Still, you missed a lot of tying up of loose ends and an appearance by Jesus. Pretty important stuff.